Some friends, they say, come into our lives for a reason, or a season, or a lifetime. Far fewer are the latter, though. Rare it is to have a friend for a lifetime; from childhood to death’s door. So we’re often cast upon the seas of decision. Sometimes we must choose our friends from between the history we have with them in the past as opposed to the prospects we have with them for the future.
Such choices are never easy. We know what we had with those in the past, but that won’t always fit with our future plans. Likewise, we may anticipate something bold and exciting with a new friend, but our hopes have no basis apart from the strength of our desire or imagination.
The friend of the past has both credibility and lack, for the times they came through for us and the times they let us down. A friend of the future has no such credibility, yet they’ve not disappointed us, either.
So, if we’re pressed, who do we spend time with—the known quality of the friend of the past, or the unknown but exciting prospect within the friend for the future?
Assessing Friendships’ Value
Whether we like it or not we’re in friendship with people for what we can gain, even though we hope to add value to our friends’ lives. In friendship we have choice.
Whilst we want to earn their trust and respect, we need to feel we can trust and respect them. It’s no good for us to be risking flippantly with our trust and respect. We choose who we love by reciprocation. We want to love those who love us, by their actions. And by our actions we’ll love them.
We might, more or less, continually screed for signs of friendships of value.
We want to know that our investment in the rich and enigmatic game called ‘love’ will prove to be a good return. We never want to be wasting our time. We don’t want to spin our wheels with love.
And there are times, too, when our needs and our desires drive us to re-evaluate the present-tense value of our friends and acquaintances. We may be at an important juncture, and, because of that, our friendships serve the change to be instilled, or they don’t. Where friendships have been significant, yet their future potential is limited, we have a choice. Which way is our life headed?
Choosing between the friends of our pasts and the friends of our futures we need to understand that what’s gone is gone, but that which is still coming can be affected.
Loyalty is important, but perhaps integrity, overall, is more important. Loyalty for past deeds of love holds less value if that loyalty has less power or contribution to make to our futures. Love is both a choice and an action, and it should not be blackmailed by the history of loyalty in our pasts if it won’t serve our futures.
Sometimes choosing to remain loyal because of the past can reveal guilt—not a free choice. Choosing to invest in a better life direction is a bold and free choice, refusing to be ambushed by guilt.
If we choose loyalty for a friend in the past, because we want that friendship to endure, we’re making a choice for the future. Our decisions regarding friends are best tested through the lens of the future. If we decide because of the past, alone, guilt may be the motivating factor.
Friendship factors favour the future, because friendship should provide hope. Choosing with thought of the future will reveal, later, a better choice—one that’s possibly guilt-free.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.